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Old-School Variance: Superman #75


I’ve often referenced it, but rarely had actual "live" photographic example to illustrate the point.

I do not consider 1990s "Collector’s Edition" and "Newsstand Edition" comics to be variants. Technically, I’ll give you that they are variants–one issue with two (or more) different covers.

Perhaps it’s that typically there would be two covers, and two covers "only" in such cases. There was also the notion of the selling channel–one version was intended for the "direct market" (comic shops) and the other for standard newsstand distribution. Also the fact that they were equally orderable by a shop–no "regularity" of 1:10 or other worse "ratios" on ordering and the other ridiculousness seen today. (special cases such as "platinum" or "gold" editions could be an exception, but those tended to seem truly "special" compared to 2016 1:50 or 1:100 or 1:500 or 1:1000 ratios!)

Back in 1992, there was the cover image. This is what people were looking for. They’d seen the image on tv, in the newspapers, in magazines, etc…so this is what they were looking for; and it was the content of the issue, the "event" of the story that was key, not which of fifty dozen alternative covers you had.

superman_0075_all_4_printings_newsstand

The variance (as opposed to variants/multiple editions) of the Superman #75 covers is due to the multiple print-runs. You have your standard first print; and then for later printings, rather than taking interior art or additional artists, the color of the Superman logo and text The Death of Superman! was changed, and a small Roman Numeral was added to the cover copy to clearly indicate which printing the issue was. (I recently came across at copy of The Killing Joke that I had and couldn’t find anything saying which printing it was…I finally realized/remembered that which printing is indicated simply by the color of the book’s title and the cover price). That’s part of why the issue(s) are so clearly "iconic" and memorable…they’ve not been diluted by umpteen hundred different images for just one issue.

It’s occurred to me that there’s likely additional variance–the UPC box. In my photo here, the first print has an actual bar code…while printings II, III, and IV have the creator credits (these are direct market copies of the "newsstand edition.") I also make a distinction there–bar code vs. not–I consider the same. I’m not actually sure if the later printings have a version with the bar code, or if the later printings were comic-shops-only (newsstands perhaps having gotten the first printing only, and anyone else had to go to the direct market?)

Anyway…the ultimate point of this post is the photo; that these are 4 different versions of the same edition of the same issue, just produced as separate print-runs. Yet same cover image, still instantly recognizable as the same issue, despite not all being printed at the same time.

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